Most Engineering and Technology (E&T) graduates in emerging countries are not educated to the same quality level as E&T graduates in advanced countries, and this may require firms to make significant on-the-job training investments to prepare these graduates for R&D positions. In this paper, we present research findings from a study of 10 firms located in India (both multinationals and local firms), through 65 interviews and extensive secondary data, to establish how these firms form teaching-focused collaborations with universities to train students with the pre-requisite skills necessary for R&D operations while simultaneously reducing on-the-job training investment. We suggest the viability of teaching-focused industry-academia (I-A) collaborations as a talent recruitment strategy in emerging countries. We also demonstrate the potential of such collaborations to provide an alternative to the traditional graduate recruitment and development model: ‘on-the-job training’. Through the identification of different forms of teaching-focused I-A collaborations aimed at enhancing both theoretical knowledge and industry and firm-specific practical and applied skills in graduates, along with their associated drivers and challenges, this paper strengthens a much-neglected dimension of the I-A collaboration literature: the role of collaborative activities for teaching between industry and university.